Clinton on Violence in Egypt / Clinton in Security Talks / Black History Month

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton calls for both sides to move toward a peaceful transition of power in Egypt. Next, Clinton is heading to Munich for international security talks. An intellectual property lawyer talks about how counterfeiting is stealing. And February is Black History Month.

Clinton Calls for Talks in Egypt
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The Obama administration condemns continued violence in Egypt and government officials and opposition groups to immediately come together in serious negotiations for a credible political transition. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, said that attacks on reporters are, “a violation of international norms that guarantee freedom of the press” and “unacceptable under any circumstances.”

Security Talks in Munich
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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will meet with more than 350 top-level decision makers from across the globe at the 47th Munich Security Conference February 4-6. Clinton, above, is expected to make a major speech on security issues and Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will exchange instruments of ratification for the New START Treaty.

Intellectual Property Rights
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Zayd Alathari, an attorney who practices intellectual property rights law in Washington, D.C., says the ramifications of buying illegally manufactured goods are vast. “Counterfeiting is stealing,” says Alathari.

Black History Month
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Each February, Black History Month honors the struggles and triumphs of millions of American citizens and their contributions to the nation’s cultural and political life. February was chosen because it includes the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and the abolitionist Frederick Douglass. At right, a man and his son see the bus in which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in 1955, a landmark moment in the civil rights movement.

Research Universities: Engines for High-Tech Entrepreneurship

Guest blogger Jonathan Ortmans is president of the Public Forum Institute, a non-partisan organization dedicated to fostering dialogue on policy issues. He also serves as a senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation.

Experts and entrepreneurs from around the world discuss what governments can do to promote high-tech entrepreneurship and what the shape of technology entrepreneurship will be in the future.

Almost all of us enjoy technologies born in university labs or benefit from new business spawned through the dissemination of technologies from the university to the marketplace. Universities have been the lifeblood of many vibrant economies, such as Silicon Valley, whose heart is Stanford University. Considering the positive, economy-wide impact of commercialized university-developed technologies, a key question for policymakers is, “Are we are maximizing this impact?”

There are several indications that the answer to that question is negative. The federal government invests nearly $50 billion a year in university research, but there are few initiatives to help bring the benefits of new technologies to consumers in an efficient manner. Robert Litan and Lesa Mitchell of the Kauffman Foundation have developed an idea that promises to address this problem. Their proposal has been named one of Harvard Business Review’s Ten Breakthrough Ideas for 2010. They call for creating an open, competitive licensing system for university technology. [University licensing offices receive invention disclosures from faculty, staff, and students, and license those commercially viable to industry in exchange for cash royalties to inventors and their departments and schools.]

Currently, most U.S. universities channel commercialization through centralized technology licensing offices (TLOs) established in the wake of the passage of the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980. This system allowed universities to gain organizational benefits and economies of scale, but over time it has slowed commercialization by monopolizing the process. Many TLOs are short-staffed and inefficient. Litan and Mitchell call for freeing up the market in technology licensing. This would require an amendment to the rules of the Bayh-Dole Act to condition federal research dollars on allowing faculty members to choose their own licensing agents [private-sector entities that provide licensing services outside universities], something that the Commerce Department could do.

In the face of declining competitiveness, a jobs crisis, and economic slowdown, the optimal commercialization of university innovations could not be more important. It is time to update policies to encourage federally supported research to translate into new products and new businesses.

What the World Needs Now Is Innovation, More Innovation

Guest blogger Joachim von Heimburg is one of the leading practitioners of “open innovation,” with 30 years of experience in R&D and product development at Procter and Gamble. Since 2009 he has worked as an independent innovation guide.

Experts and entrepreneurs from around the world discuss what governments can do to promote high-tech entrepreneurship and what the shape of technology entrepreneurship will be in the future.

Climate change. Secure energy and water supply. Food production for the growing world population. These all pose challenges that require many innovations of a global scope. But is the world innovating globally?

Political leaders love innovation and want more of it. But do they support innovating outside their home turf?

It all starts with an entrepreneur identifying an opportunity to create value. Intellectual property rights define ownership of this value. The bigger the market, the more value is created, so more innovations will emerge in bigger markets.

Action required: Standardize and better enforce intellectual property rights across countries, creating bigger markets for innovations.

Innovations require balancing many forces. Some of them are within the control of the entrepreneur — like product performance. Some of them require trade-offs between the benefits of innovation and the risks to society. Think of cars. Although they kill thousands every year, many people drive to work every morning. But not all countries see risks in the same way. Compare the risk-benefit assessment of nuclear power in France vs. Germany.

Action required: Shape discussions assessing benefits vs. risks with the objective of bringing more innovations to the market.

In the political world, the whole world, innovation is often an orphan. Rarely can politicians show ownership for innovation on a global level in the way they can feel responsible for national research. Policies across borders often focus on risk reduction and thus favor the status quo. But innovation must venture into uncharted territory. Politicians – are you reading this? – you must accept a leadership role to help the world become more innovative. Yes, you can!

Swedish Voters Strike Back Against Copyright

In Stockholm, a man waves a pirate flag in support of file-sharing while Pirate Party founder Rickard Falkvinge talks in background.

In Stockholm, a man waves a pirate flag in support of file-sharing while Pirate Party founder Rickard Falkvinge talks in the background.

In my last entry, I wrote about how the president of France, Sarkozy, wants stricter laws in his country to crack down on Internet piracy. Today, I find myself confounded by news from another European nation, where a group is taking a polar opposite view.

Sweden has a new political party, the Pirate Party, founded in 2006, that seeks to “fundamentally reform copyright law, get rid of the patent system, and ensure that citizens’ rights to privacy are respected.”

This “pro-file-sharing” Pirate Party won 7.1 percent of the Swedish vote recently and by doing so claimed one of the country’s 18 seats in the European Parliament. Party members say they are champions against the copyright system; they, according to their Web site, see themselves as “the next generation of the civil liberties movement.”

Is this news significant beyond the devious irony of the party’s name? Seven percent of the voting Swedish public is not a share one can readily dismiss. Could the copyright system be so disagreeable to so many people that it will be overhauled or replaced in our lifetime?

In the United States, National Public Radio reports that many of the Swedish voters supporting the Pirate Party are younger people. Will public opinion toward protecting copyright issues erode as the next generation comes of age?

I often talk to industry and government experts about what they call “the copyright crisis.” I spend more time than most people thinking about intellectual property issues, but even to me, news about an emerging political party that focuses exclusively on file-sharing is odd. During the past decade, I have worked with organizations that believe economic growth occurs when a nation’s citizens are encouraged to create and innovate. The premise being this: People need incentives to develop new products; historically, individuals have created and innovated when there was personal gain associated with their action. No drug company, for example, will invest a billion dollars to research and develop a new drug if there is no financial incentive for it to do so.

Economic growth cannot occur if everything suddenly becomes open source.

I find the Swedish development newsworthy, if troubling. Artists, software developers, pharmaceutical researchers, etc., need protection from pirates.

I am surprised that there are so many people in Sweden who would put file-sharing so high on their list of priorities and cast precious votes to back a measure focused on the single issue of Internet content. Shouldn’t more Swedes be backing a party that supports something like, say, surviving the current economic global crisis, containing nuclear proliferation in North Korea, feeding people in Africa or securing peace in the Middle East? Is downloading free songs off the Internet that important to the people of Sweden?

France Fighting Digital Crime

French Culture Minister Christine Albanel testifies in the French National Assembly in May about a bill outlawing Internet piracy.

French Culture Minister Christine Albanel testifies in the French National Assembly in May about a bill outlawing Internet piracy.

If you are illegally sharing copyrighted material in France, be forewarned. President Nicolas Sarkozy wants you punished. On May 13, 2009, the French National Assembly passed a bill which is essentially a “three strikes and you’re out” act to suspend Internet access to anyone caught downloading copyrighted files three or more times. Combating digital crime is a priority for Sarkozy, and his government has taken note. What’s unique about this law? The enforcers, a new “high-level authority,” would require neither a court order nor a trial to take away violators’ Internet access for an entire year.

This bill is creating a stir in cafes from Calais to Marseille. It is also raising eyebrows around the globe as one of the most aggressive digital anti-piracy regulations ever conceived. And it looks like the controversy is just beginning. Producers of content, ranging from film to music to software, are hailing the bill as a monumental achievement. The European Parliament, as well as many civil rights proponents, is not so enamored.

A week before the French National Assembly passed the bill, known as HADOPI (Haute Autorité pour la Diffusion des Oeuvres et la Protection des Droits sur Internet), the European Parliament passed a measure banning EU member states from adopting such an amendment. They claim Internet access is a fundamental right, akin to freedom of expression and freedom of access to information.

Neil Turkewitz, executive vice president from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), sent me an e-mail with some of his thoughts. He writes that the sanction is not harsh because it is a graduated response. “The alleged infringer is given multiple opportunities to confront his or her accuser, and to either protest innocence or modify his or her practices. And not just once! No one has proposed that termination of a user account be the response to an allegation of infringement — just to repeated indifference to such allegations.”

Opponents say the “big stick” approach to illegal downloading has never been proven to work. Many insist the graduated response effort will do nothing to foster communication or bring royalties to artists or innovators.

Fakes Are Never in Fashion

Actress Sharon Stone poses beside a poster of the first Russian edition of Harper’s Bazaar magazine.

Actress Sharon Stone poses beside a poster of the first Russian edition of Harper’s Bazaar magazine.

The fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar wants you to know that “fakes are never in fashion.” Valerie Salembier, the senior vice president and publisher of the publication, has emerged as a leading advocate against counterfeiting. And we hope her campaign continues … and keeps fashionistas and wannabe fashionistas aware that counterfeiting has its costs to us all.

Valerie took center stage at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s IP (intellectual property) event in Washington last month ( Emerging from an audience of blue suits in her couture yellow jacket, she proclaimed that buying fakes is hardly harmless. She hit an experienced, been-there-done-that IP crowd from Europe and the United States with powerful news that luxury product companies are starting to do something to combat counterfeiting. Despite carnage to their industry, luxury product manufacturers have done little to fight the proliferation of fakes on city streets. Valerie brilliantly linked the counterfeiting of luxury products to problems in child labor, terrorism and human trafficking. She noted that it’s not just about ripping off high-end French and Italian manufacturers. It’s about honest consumers supporting a wretched, criminal business syndicate that derails economies and ruins lives. Counterfeits come from the underbelly of society, not resourceful creators or entrepreneurs. You can learn more about Harper’s efforts to counter counterfeiting at this Web site:

Vive la Valerie!

Counterfeiting and Piracy Hurt Real People

Effective public awareness campaigns about intellectual property rights have been few and far between. Policymakers know they must educate the general public about issues such as counterfeiting and illegal downloading. But how do you get this across to the masses? How do you tell them that buying a knock-off Gucci handbag to improve your perceived status or downloading 12 copies of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” for your dance club contributes to economic stagnation and maybe even organized crime?

“Communicating the Value of Intellectual Property” was the topic of a round-table discussion at the IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) Transatlantic Collaboration conference April 27 and April 28, 2009, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington. I was glad to see the U.S. Chamber and its partners, including Eurochambres, dedicating time to this important topic.

So why is it that many public awareness campaigns have failed miserably? The reason, said the conference participants, is that the campaigns attempted to shame people who violated IPR rules. Public service announcements made people feel bad about themselves. This had a negative effect on consumers. They felt they were being unnecessarily berated by Big Industry. The big stick approach of “you are breaking the law and could go to jail if you pirate CDs or buy fakes” was just not credible and left the intended audience with sour feelings.

Part of the solution, said John Tarpey, the director of communications for the World Intellectual Property Organization, is to avoid making people feel bad, but to explain to them how counterfeiting and piracy can hurt real people. John believes the best campaigns show the damages to artists, innovators and technical staffers when their products are illegally reproduced. Once the public comprehends the actual cost to honest folks, it starts to think that buying this fake isn’t worth it if good people are losing their jobs.

Let’s explain to consumers how they fit into the big picture of piracy and counterfeiting and how a single illegal action does have its costs, John said. From my vantage point at the Creative and Innovative Economy Center, I totally agree.

Green is the Theme

An advertisement for World Intellectual Property Day

An advertisement for World Intellectual Property Day

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) says “green” is the theme for this year’s World Intellectual Property (IP) Day. World IP Day is celebrated each year on April 26 with events hosted worldwide — all with the purpose of spreading awareness of the importance of the patent, trademark and copyright systems to the global economy. Green, of course, refers to the myriad social campaigns for environmental protection and the exponential growth of environmentally friendly products, which one hopes will help save our planet from ecological calamity. Green is all about raising awareness of what we can do to save our troubled planet from man-made threats such as global warming. By the way, in the American vernacular, “green” also means money, a reference to the color of one side of the U.S. currency bills.

WIPO Magazine dedicated its April 2009 issue to the challenges of finding technological solutions to climate change. They’ve posted articles that provide examples of how IP can “contribute to the development of low carbon technologies and their transfer to developing countries.” Articles explore topics such as green design, solar technology, clean energy and plant breeding. Read them at: The European Patent Office is also looking into eco-oriented technologies. It offers information on emerging technologies such as wind power, car emissions and bioplastics at

But what’s the link between things green and intellectual property? In order to develop the Earth-saving technologies, the innovators who are to deliver these marvels need to benefit from their research and development (R&D). History has shown us that innovators do the best job of innovating when they have the financial incentive to do so. Economies that welcome innovators and entrepreneurs with the academic, legal and financial framework to do their jobs are more likely to find the engine that does not emit carbon dioxide or the disposable products that will not lay in a landfill for the next millennium. In short, we have to encourage and reward the people who are capable of saving our planet. The global IP system’s intention is to encourage eco-friendly R&D that can be used by us in the North and the West and ultimately be transferred to developing economies.

A friend who heads a “green” telecommunications company says he does so because he believes in eco-friendly products and services from a standpoint of social responsibility. But he also adds, unabashedly, “green is the new green.” He is in business to make money … and better yet if he can make money by spreading a technology that makes the planet a better place to live. I think this convergence of profits and environmental products also applies to the commercial development of eco-friendly products and the need for their patent protection. This IP Day, let’s incentivize the innovators who are building an industry on saving planet Earth.

A Day to Celebrate Intellectual Propery Rights

April 26th is the date when intellectual property (IP) practitioners around the world gather to recognize the global intellectual property system and the role it plays in stimulating creativity and innovation. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) decided back in 2000 to designate a date to help global citizens learn more about the impact patents, trademarks and copyrights have on their lives and their nation’s economy.

Any organization can set up its own IP Day. Typically it is government agencies, like patent and trademark offices, or universities, which host their country’s activities. WIPO encourages organizations in nations as varied as Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Estonia to host events. The organization provides promotional tools and suggests activities, but leaves the actual management of the events up to each host. WIPO also provides a list of activities it recognizes. Click here to find out what events may be taking place in your hometown: But this list is not complete. You may want to Google “World IP Day 2009” along with your city or country to find out what’s going on locally.

I plan to attend an event here in Washington hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Association of European Chambers of Commerce on April 27 & 28. This year they are focusing on two themes: “US and EU approaches to protecting IP” and “Communicating the Value of IP.” John Tarpey of WIPO and Richard Maulsby of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will be participating. Too bad I can’t be in Jamaica on April 24th for its Creativity Expo featuring prominent local musicians.

Officially, green is the theme of this year’s IP Day. WIPO is promoting the role IP plays in advancing clean technologies, green design, and green branding. But a review of global IP Day activities reveals that most countries have developed their own agendas off the official theme. Regardless, WIPO and other organizations have put out quality articles on green IP, the topic of my next entry.

Brazil Singing Different Tune?

People test computers during a technology forum, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2006.

People test computers at a technology forum in São Paulo, Brazil, in 2006.

Is Brazil singing a different tune when it comes to embracing innovation in the information technology sector? Could Brazilian IT be burgeoning while other countries are just trying to hang on in these economically difficult times?

My colleagues at the George Washington University Law School’s Creative and Innovative Economy Center and the University of São Paulo’s Center for Science and Technology believe real change is happening in Brazil’s IT sector. Brazil is not traditionally known as a country with a solid infrastructure or a culture that supports the kind of entrepreneurship that drives IT development. Problems abound, such as the ability to transfer technology from campus to industry, the availability of venture capital and a weak intellectual property system that does not protect business interests sufficiently.

Despite this legacy, researchers at CIEC and USP say they are optimistic about the good things that are taking place in Brazilian IT. CIEC and USP, in a research effort sponsored by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), have singled out five individuals and one nonprofit organization that are changing the status quo.

• Claire Feliz Regina for her work at Receita Federal do Brasil, the Brazilian internal revenue service. Regina is called the “pioneer of e-government” who simplified the electronic filing of tax returns and has won acclaim worldwide for her accomplishments.

• The Câmara Interbancária de Pagamentos. The only “institution” among the winners, this nonprofit consortium of banks designed an IT-enabled system to clear checks quickly and cost-effectively around the country in real-time.

• Bruno Ghizoni, the entrepreneur who founded Neos Technology Innovation, is changing the face of IT innovation as a strategy consultant. He developed software that maps patterns of words associated with products and services for the purpose of innovating new products and services.

• João Meidonis and João Setubal, “the inventors of Brazilian bioinformatics,” who successfully built the IT system that sequenced a pathogen that was destroying millions of dollars worth of citrus crop each year.

• Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, who as scientific director at the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo leads the way to further innovation in Brazil’s IT sector by opening channels of communication and helping start-ups find capital.

You can read more about them at